Written by Sean McPheat |
I watched the First Night of the Proms at the weekend (well, there is a little time left in my life for culture!) and, as usual, the co-ordination and cohesion between all the players in the orchestra was magnificent. The harmonies majestically played underneath the main themes and everyone was beautifully controlled by the conductor.
It set me thinking about how interdependent each person was on getting their job completely right. One duff note by one person would have been noticed by everyone, one instrument out of tune would have ruined the whole experience for orchestra and audience alike.
This is also true in businesses that serve customers. The interdependence of each department getting their processes correct is vital as they produce the items that each customer requires. For example, what happens in a business when production problems happen and delays to deliveries affect the shipping department?
Production schedules have to be altered, customer services get calls from unhappy customers, targets start to be missed, loyalty becomes harder to establish, salespeople become disgruntled, market share starts to slip away, morale drops and profits may fall.
Yes, it’s only one part of the whole process, but it affects everyone down the line. This is because of the interdependency of one section of the business on another and another and another.
Think about this in terms of your customers. They will be interdependent on each other for the success of their business, and you, as salesperson, can determine the best way to present solutions by understanding the pains that each department may be facing and how they could affect other departments.
For example, if you were to know the contributing reasons for their problems and the impact those problems might be having on other parts of the process chain, you could link your solutions with those pains and problems, hence identifying how you could alleviate them for the decision-makers.
Knowing this information differentiates you from your competition, as buyers are impressed by the fact that you know their business better than the competition does.
To do this, you need to know what challenges each person in the buying chain is experiencing and how it affects others.
For example, you may have found out the following during your research:
The finance department are experiencing falling profits, caused by missing targets, increased costs and bad debts; the sales team are missing targets because not enough hunting is going on in the market place, the increasing overheads, the bad debts and poor number of new customers; the sales manager recognises the current system doesn’t give him enough information to meet the needs of the sales team, so the team don’t have the opportunities made clear to them where the new business should be coming from.
Now, imagine if you went into a sales meeting with the decision-makers and you presented your findings based on your research that hits their pains exactly? Not only that, you show you understand the reasons for the pain and how they impact the other departments when they are out of harmony.
If you can trace the challenges that occur throughout the organisation, i.e. the impact each situation that one department faces has on another, you will see very often that the pain gets more intense and the disharmony accentuates itself.
Sometimes the correlation is exact, like when poor production scheduling affects delivery dates, which affects customer’s customers, which affects loyalty, which affects further sales, etc, etc.
Sometimes it isn’t that exact, so we may have to do some connections with the client to determine the impacts of the various challenges being faced.
This can differentiate you from the competition, as it concentrates on their business issues rather than the products and services that the competitor’s salespeople may try to put at the forefront. You don’t talk about solutions at this point; you convince the buyers and other decision-makers that you, through a complete understanding of what is happening in their business, are the person to trust and confide in when they DO need to talk about solutions.
Think of the harmony that your prospect’s business has to work at. If there are some disharmonies occurring, show your ability to identify where they are occurring, their effects on others and the results of not changing the status quo. They will think of you as being the conductor of affairs and follow your lead as you progress towards solutions that your company can help them with.
They will also see the progress to their business as you deal with the challenges and improve your value over and above your competitors.
Originally published: 24 July, 2014